Bathroom fans help keep your bathroom free of harmful mold and mildew. An exhaust fan also works to remove odors and reduce dander, dust and allergens in the home.
Before you call a contractor, consider installing an exhaust fan yourself. This moderately difficult project should only take a couple hours.
How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Step 1 – Decide on a fan model. Features range from simple fan-powered vents to allergen-reducing filters. Shop around and find a model that suits your needs for both performance and appearance.
Step 2 – Pick the location where the fan will go. Most bathroom exhaust units mount either to the ceiling or into an exterior wall of the home.
Step 3 – If replacing an old fan, remove it now. Find the ceiling joist by using a stud finder. A template tracing should be included in the packaging with your fan. Secure it to the wall using painter's tape. Using your saw, cut about 1/8 inch in from the template edge to allow room to remove more material later if needed, instead of cutting too much. Make sure that you put the fastening side of the fan to the joist.
Step 4 – If replacing an existing fan, the wiring is already there. For a new fan, you will be using the wiring leading to the bathroom main light. Run a length of cable from your existing light switch to the exhaust fan. If you want separate switches for the fan and light functions, use a 3-wire cable. Connect the exhaust fan wiring to the house wiring by following the wiring instructions provided with your fan. If your unit includes a heater and/or timer, you may need an additional.
Step 5 – Make the electrical connections to the fan using wire nuts following the wiring diagram from the manufacturer. Most simple fans only require wiring copper to copper, white to white, and black to black; more elaborate units will require more connections. Attach the ground wire to the grounding clip on the housing. Put all the wires into the wiring box section of the housing. Attach the fan cover.
Step 6 – Instsuggestions all the ventilation duct to the fan housing. Connect flexible plastic duct material to the soffit vent leading to outside. The model of your fan will determine where you place the vent, as some require direct ducting outside, while others do not. Check the manufacturer’s for your model.
Step 7 – Turn the power back on and test the fan.
If you're looking to purchase a fan, check out our Fans Buyer's Guide.